Ever wonder how a story is born? My most recent guest post by author Roxanne Bland tells how her books started years before she ever wrote them.
The Moreva of Astoreth, a blend of science fiction, romance, and adventure, has its roots in a game a friend and I played in college. We collaborated on a story, taking turns. I don’t recall the details—it was more years ago than I care to remember—but it went something like this. A woman, the daughter of a king, is exiled from her homeland in the desert because she refused to marry a man the king had picked out for her. She travels north. After many adventures, she arrives at a village willing to take her in. The village chieftain is enamored of her, but does not want his people to know since she’s a stranger. The woman genuinely dislikes him. After being at each other’s throats for a period of time, the woman falls in love with him. The chieftain confesses his feelings. They marry.
Meanwhile, the woman’s father, feeling remorseful for exiling his daughter, gathers his army to go look for her. They wander from village to village, searching, but they do not find her. Concluding that his daughter must have headed north, turns in that direction. Still, they do not find her. Frustrated now, the king begins laying waste to every village he and his army come across. Finally, they arrive at the village where the woman is living. The king demands his daughter return with him. She refuses, telling him she is now married and happy. Her father threatens war. The chieftain accepts his challenge, and the war begins. The story concludes with both the woman and the chieftain being killed in the fighting.
Not a very happy ending, is it?
Years later, I read Zecharia Sitchin’s Earth Chronicles series. He posits that ancient astronauts—the Annunaki—from the planet Nibiru in our solar system came to Earth looking for gold. While here, they created humans to use as workers, and founded the Sumerian civilization. Sitchin has his loyal adherents, and his scholarly detractors. But whether one believes it or not, it’s quite a tale. I’m not a believer, but I was fascinated by the story.
More years pass. One day, I was sitting in my office, stuck in a novel I was writing. I couldn’t figure out what to do next. Trying to get going again, I started playing the “what if” game. “What if he does this? What if she does that?” The sort of game authors—at least this author—plays. It wasn’t working. Annoyed, I leaned back in my chair and let my mind wander. It wasn’t long before I started reminiscing about my college days, specifically my friend, and the story we’d written. My mind wandered some more. I started thinking about Sitchin’s works. While ruminating over it, an idea came to me. What if I melded the two stories in some way? What if, what if, what if…?
And then, like Athena from Zeus’s head, the story’s outline came to me, fully formed. Which is an interesting development, since I’m a pantser—I write by the “seat of my pants,” that is, the plot takes form while I write—and not a plotter. Filing the outline away for future use, I took up my work-in-progress again. But I couldn’t get on with it. The outline I’d created kept knocking at my brain, until it was interfering with my work-in-progress. So I put it aside and started writing The Moreva of Astoreth.
Now here’s the funny part. I’d planned the story to take place in the spring of the planetary year. But the characters took over (they do that sometimes). And then I was a pantser again. I was working the way I usually work—I saw the “movie” in my head, and I just wrote down the events. So I ended up with a story that takes place over the course of a year, which made for a pretty big book. Still, the tale is a good one—I like to think so, anyway—and I had a lot of fun writing it.
And that, dear reader, is how the Moreva of Astoreth came to be.
Bio: Roxanne Bland grew up in Washington, D.C., where she discovered strange and wonderful new worlds through her local library and bookstores. These and other life experiences have convinced her that reality is highly overrated.